Amid volatility, uncertainty, OPEC+ keeps oil output unchanged

OPEC+ has responded to surging volatility and growing market uncertainty by keeping its oil production unchanged. 

The outcome of the brief online meeting on Sunday reflects the unpredictability of supply and demand in coming months and wild gyrations in prices of the past week. 

The oil producers’ group has only just implemented the hefty 2 million barrel-a-day reduction agreed at its last gathering. Meanwhile, European Union sanctions on crude oil exports from Russia come into effect on Monday, and China is tentatively easing the COVID measures that have eroded its fuel consumption. 

Brent crude oil plunged to its lowest level since September on November 28, but ended up posting its biggest weekly gain in a month. 

“With massive and offsetting fundamental and geopolitical risks bearing down on the oil market, ministers understandably opted to hold steady and hunker down,” said Bob McNally, the president of Rapidan Energy Advisers. 

The decision by the OPEC and its allies should hold for at least a few months. The group’s Joint Ministerial Monitoring Committee, led by Saudi Arabia and Russia, will meet again in February. The outlook could be clearer by then, and the panel has the power to call extraordinary meetings if it thinks output policy may need to change. 

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